Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spectra - Installment 5

Chapter 2
I know the drive to the cabin better than I know the back of my hand. Having visited every summer since the third grade, and recently taking weekend vacations every couple of months, the trip has become second nature. It’s a bit of a drive to the forest, but it only takes a couple of hours at most if you take the backroads. Needless to say, the drive was pretty much effortless, physically and socially. It was muscle memory of the brain and body.
“Hey, Luca,” Alice said, leaning over the middle console of the front seat, “Don’t you think we should get some gas, soon? We’re only at about a half a tank, and the closest station to the cabin is six miles out.”
I smiled. Alice always knew best.
“Yeah, you’re right. I’ll stop at the next one.”
A half tank of gas and twenty bucks later, we were driving deep within the woods of Wenatchee National Forest. We were blasting My Chemical Romance and singing along nearly as loud. It always happened this way with us. Sobe might have felt hesitant before - afraid of being the third wheel - but the fact of the matter was we were a tricycle. If one of the wheels were gone, then what was the point?
My suspicions were confirmed when Sobe leaned in between Alice and I, smiling wider than a cat.
“Man, I’m so glad you two dorks dragged me along. It’s been a while since I let loose like this.”
She shook her hair in front of her face as Frank started wailing on the guitar over the car's stereo. I couldn’t help but watch her orange fringe whip across the pinks of her cheeks. It was a pleasing sound, coupled with the music. It was like they belonged together.
It was then that I understood why people preferred different types of music. Watching her dance made me realize that you don’t choose music. Music is made for you. It jives with your wavelengths, you know? And Sobe’s wavelength was set to early 2000’s emo rock. The shit was ancient, but it never stopped being good.
I was lost in the sound of Sobe’s frequencies when Alice tensed. She turned down the radio and looked at me, her brown eyes practically sending me into shock.
“Something’s wrong,” she said carefully, scanning the horizon.
I refocused my full attention to the road, attentively scanning the trees. She was right. Something was wrong. The trees - that normally emitted thrumming, earthly vibes as they blurred by - were freckled with white noise. Something was coming toward us from the woods... and fast.
I skidded to a stop just in time to watch a pack of wild, white wolves pass directly in front of our windshield, howling as they crossed. Their frequencies blurred across my vision, their snow-white fur shrieking in my ears. Alice and I hid our eyes in our elbows, waiting for the pack to pass. I could see nothing, and all I could hear beside the occasional thump of a tail against the bumper was the quick, liquid beating of my own heart. The two sounded about the same anyway.
Some time had passed before Sobe spoke up, her voice trembling.
“Okay. Okay wow. Alright guys, you can look now. They’re gone.”
When I chanced a glance in her direction to make sure she was okay, her face was pale and her violet eyes were fed with tears. It hurt to look at, physically and emotionally, but I pulled her into a hug anyway, burying her face into chest.
“It’s okay, Sobes. We’re just lucky Alice caught that in time. I didn’t even notice until she said something.”
I removed Sobe from my chest and pulled in Alice in her place. She was shaking, but I knew she was okay. Alice had nerves of steel.
I asked anyway, “Are you okay baby?”
“Yeah,” she confirmed, pulling herself back into her seat, “I’ve got nerves of steel."
I smiled at that, and rested my head against my seat, closing my eyes. I focused on my breathing, listening to the sound of absence. When my heart had finished it’s little episode, I did another perimeter check. Satisfied that no more demon dogs lurked in the wooden beyond, I began to close the remaining distance between us and the cabin. Despite us being a bit shaken, the rest of the ride was smooth. Alice turned the radio back up, just maybe not quite so loud this time, and it began to melt away. Things like that happen all the time in the backcountry, right? Us city-dwellers just weren't used to it.
The only caveat to our good time, however, was Sobe. I could understand, seeing as we just had a run in with death, but something was off. I’ve seen Sobe high off her ass, doing doughnuts in the school parking lot. She’d jump off the Space Needle if she knew somebody would catch her. This shouldn’t have been a problem.
Alice fell asleep about twenty minutes after the fact - probably a side-effect of the anxiety spike. I turned down the radio to let her sleep in peace. Sobe, however, didn’t protest. Something was definitely up. I took a peak in the back and saw her on her phone, texting away. She looked so… intense.
“Hey, Sobes,” I began softly, not wanting to wake the angel in my passenger seat, “Everything alright?”
She looked up from her phone and nodded her head.
“Yeah, I’m okay Luca. Just texting my mom to let her know I’m okay.”
I nodded back.
“Alright. Just let me know if you need anything, okay? I gotta make sure I take good care of my girls.”
“Hey, bud, get with the picture. It’s 2065. Women in 2065 don’t need no man to take care of them.”
She snapped her fingers in a cliche “z-formation”, a smirk lighting itself up across her face. There’s my best friend.
“Okay, okay. Shit, got a classic Susan B. Anthony over here,” I joked, smiling at her in the rear-view mirror. She laughed.
I was just starting to feel more at ease when her phone buzzed. She promptly fell quiet again, typing out a lengthy message. The state of practical Nirvana I had reached was shattered, as her fingers flew wildly across the screen. She usually used voice-to-text anyway. Why was she being so reserved? Was she trying to spare my feelings? It wasn’t even my fault. I mean, I guess I should have been wearing my chroma-glasses, but who honestly wears those outside of class anyway? The world sounded beautiful when you weren't trying to take an exam. Still, I wanted to know what was up with her. Just to be sure.
“Jesus Christ, are you writing a novel or something?” I chanced at humor, adding a small chuckle at the end to make it sound less harsh than I meant. It still sounded accusative, and I knew I screwed up the instant I said it. However, what came out of her mouth next took me by surprise.
“How did you and Alice know the wolves were coming?”
If I faltered, I tried not to let it show.

“What do you mean? We heard them. I mean, I guess I don’t expect you to understand. It is kind of a- y’know, an us thing. But if you want me to expla-”
“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
She was silent for the rest of the drive. I didn’t want to push her. She was already someplace over the edge. Where, exactly, I didn’t know. I just hoped she’d come around before the weekend was up. It’s one thing being a tricycle with two wheels, but a tricycle with a flat tire is just as useless.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what will happen with this "tricycle" -- but I'm a big fan of love triangles!